The Outlook goes around the league and examines which players are hot and cold, and which players you should keep an eye on.
With the holidays swinging in, we have an abbreviated version of the Outlook this week, with a quick look at upcoming schedule and a rundown of some top pickups.
Four games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, GSW, IND, LAC, MIL, NJ, NY, SAC, TOR, UTA, WASThree games: CLE, DET, HOU, LAL, MIA, MIN, NO, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHO, SATwo games: MEM, POR
1. Memphis Grizzlies (2 games: New Orleans, Charlotte)2. Minnesota Timberwolves (3 games: @Sacramento, Cleveland, Houston)3. San Antonio Spurs (3 games: @New Orleans, @Orlando, Toronto)4. Chicago Bulls (4 game: @Charlotte, LA Clippers, @Boston, Utah)5. Denver Nuggets (4 games: @Dallas, @Houston, Cleveland, @Phoenix)
1. Indiana Pacers (4 games: @Washington, Golden State, LA Clippers, @Philadelphia)2. Charlotte Bobcats (4 games: @Atlanta, Chicago, @Memphis, Golden State)3. Milwaukee Bucks (4 games: @Miami, @Philadelphia, @New York, LA Clippers)4. Los Angeles Clippers (4 games: @Oklahoma City, @Chicago, @Indiana, @Milwaukee)5. Philadelphia 76ers (3 games: Milwaukee, @Washington, Indiana)
1. Monta Ellis, Warriors
Finally, there is an update on Ellis, and it was a positive one. He won't participate in full workouts until next month, but he was on the court doing shooting drills last Thursday, and it sounds like his rehab is going well. While his health is going to be a major question mark when he returns, Ellis declared that "I will recover 100 percent and be the same player I was before I left, or even stronger."
Ellis at 100 percent was virtually unstoppable last year, so if he returns at 80 percent or better, he'll still be a force. You shouldn't expect the same type of mind-boggling numbers that he put up last season, but he'll have plenty of big games once he gets back up to speed. If he's still available in your league, now is the time to pick him up. Get well soon, Monta!
2. Delonte West, Cavaliers
If you're in a competitive league with more than 10 teams, West should not be available. But according to ESPN and CBS, he's owned in less than 60 percent of their leagues. I guess a lot of people are still sleeping, and they must not know that the combo guard is one of just three players averaging 3-plus assists, 1.5-plus threes, and 1-plus steals while shooting better than 45 percent from the field and over 80 percent from the line (Joe Johnson and Jason Terry are the others).
After a hot start, West has cooled down recently, scoring in single-digits in three straight games. However, now is the perfect time to grab him, because Daniel Gibson is currently out with a sprained big toe. He had the exact same injury his rookie year, so this thing could linger. "Boobie" had been getting big minutes off the bench, but now that he's out, West will be asked to play 36-plus minutes every night. That's going to give his fantasy value a big boost, so if he's still out there, snatch him up now. Wiyaah Hangahh!
3. Boris Diaw, Bobcats
I already analyzed the trade here, so if you need a forward, read that and consider picking him up. No, you should not drop D.J. Augustin for him, because Diaw's scoring potential can't even compare. But if you have, say, a Luis Scola or Jason Thompson, make the switch now before someone else does.
Even in deep leagues, most of these players will usually fly under the radar, but they could fill-in quite nicely.
For boards and blocks:Nick Collison, Thunder and Ronny Turiaf, Warriors
I told you to drop Collison in Week 6, but now it's time to pick him up again. In his last three games, the former Jayhawk is averaging 27.7 minutes, 13 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He played a season-high 33 minutes on Wednesday, and that's because Chris Wilcox left the game with an injury. Wilcox will be out 10-14 days, so Collison should be a solid starter for the next two weeks.
Ronny Turiaf was one of my favorite backup center picks heading into this season, but his minutes have been sporadic and limited thus far. Don Nelson recently named him a co-captain, however, and is starting to give him more minutes, so consider picking him up if you need blocks. Turiaf's 6.44 rejections per 48 minutes trails only Chris Andersen's average of 6.67 per 48.
For boards and field-goal shooting: Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers
"Sideshow V" is not known for his offense, but Anderson has scored 15-plus points twice in his last four games. He's also been solid on the boards and is shooting nearly 58 percent from the field this season. A lack of minutes has limited his fantasy value in the past, but center Zydrunas Ilgauskas sprained his ankle last Wednesday and it sounds like he's going to miss a few games. If you need a big man for Week 8, Anderson is a nice pickup.
For points and assists: Louis Williams, 76ers
I was one of many people expecting a nice stat increase for Lou-Will this season. Instead, he got off to a terrible start, averaging just 8 points in 16 minutes while shooting just 33 percent from the field in November. However, in his last four games, Williams is scoring 16.5 points on 51 percent shooting. His minutes will still be limited since Andre Miller never misses games, but he's worth consideration now that he's hot.
For points and threes: Anthony Morrow, Warriors
If you're not sure how free agent bidding works, I'll give you an example. In my main high-stakes leagues, we're given a $1,000 budget for the whole season to spend on free agents, and bids are processed every Sunday night. So when Morrow exploded for 37 points and 4 treys on a Saturday, owners scrambled to put in their high bids. He ended up going for $232 in one league and $322 in the other. In the former league, he was dropped two weeks later.
So last Sunday, after reading about Stephen Jackson's hand injury and Corey Maggette's hamstring woes, I decided to put in a $4 bid for Morrow. I won him and started him this week. He's responded with 31 points, 4 threes, and 3 steals in his last two games, and he could continue to get solid playing time for two reasons: 1) Jackson and Maggette are still ailing, and Ellis' return is still a ways away, and 2) Don Nelson wants to see more ball movement (and less Maggette with his head down), which should result in more shots for the sweet-shooting rookie.